Terrorists feed off their hosts
Today's NY Times contained a fascinating article, remarkable also because it managed to talk at length about Islamicist terrorists in London while taking only one swipe at the US and Blair. Here is the article in question, (available to registered readers only, however) and headlined, "For a decade, London thrived as a busy crossroads of terror."
The situation it describes is utterly appalling. Apparently, it has been well-known for some time that the Moslem community of London houses a large number of people who are quite vocal and open about their Al Qaeda sympathies, and who can count on a legal system dedicated to the preservation of their rights to freedom of speech no matter what that speech is saying, even if that protection amounts almost to a flirting with suicide on the part of that system. The British have even frustrated the French by their kindness to terror suspects--specifically, their refusal to extradite them.
There is a delicate balance that needs to be calibrated, both here and abroad, between the protection of those rights that have made the English-speaking world the hallmark of tolerance and freedom, and the need to preserve such freedoms from those who would use them as a platform from which to destroy them.
How very ironic and paradoxical: the terrorists in Britain pracice a sort of non-gentle type of jujitsu, using the opponent's own strength and redirecting it back at him in order to try to bring him down. The opponents--the British and American systems of government, rights, law enforcement, and intelligence--must be nimble and flexible, not rigid, in order to strike back and win. How much do we need to adjust our legal systems to fight this particular menace effectively? How little is too little? How much is too much?
Reading the article, though, it is clear that the British have not done enough. Here are some excerpts:
Counterterrorism officials estimate that 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims living in Britain are supporters of Al Qaeda. Among that number, officials believe that as many as 600 men were trained in camps connected with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere...
Before Sept. 11, 2001, British officials monitored radical Islamicists but generally stopped short of arresting or extraditing them. After Sept. 11, the government passed legislation that allowed indefinite detention of terrorism suspects. But last year, it was overturned by Britain's highest court, the Law Lords, as a violation of human rights law.
Complicating Britain's antiterrorism strategy is its refusal or delays of requests for extradition of suspects by some allies, including the United States, France, Spain and Morocco.
Moroccan authorities, for example, are seeking the return of Mohammed el-Guerbozi, a battle-hardened veteran of Afghanistan who they say planned the May 2003 attacks in Casablanca, which killed 45 people. He has also been identified as a founder of the Moroccan Combatant Islamic Group, cited by the United Nations as a terrorist network connected to Al Qaeda. An operative in that group, Noureddine Nifa, told investigators that the organization had sleeper cells prepared to mount synchronized bombings in Britain, France, Italy, Belgium and Canada. In an interview last year, Gen. Hamidou Laanigri, Morocco's chief of security, said Osama bin Laden authorized Mr. Guerbozi to open a training camp for Moroccans in Afghanistan in the beginning of 2001. Last December, Mr. Guerbozi was convicted in absentia in Morocco for his involvement in the Casablanca attacks and sentenced to 20 years.
But the British government has no extradition treaty with Morocco and has refused to extradite Mr. Guerbozi, a father of six who lives in a rundown apartment in north London. British officials say there is not enough evidence to arrest him, General Laanigri said.
The article goes on to list a whole string of similar cases. One wonders whether the British are now going to get serious about dealing with the terrorists in their midst, or whether even the London bombings were not enough of a wake-up call.
The following is also not encouraging; it almost seems to be a policy on the part of the British that is stark raving mad. Why is this man still being offered political asylum, as though he were some sort of Solzhenitsyn fleeing the Soviets? And the fact that he is living on welfare only deepens the irony. He is so bold that he makes no attempt to hide his hatred and contempt for the country that has taken him in and shown him such graciousness and magnanimity:
So far, there appears to be little effort to restrain outspoken clerics, including prominent extremists like Sheik Omar, who has reportedly been under investigation by Scotland Yard.
Sheik Omar, who remains free, is an example of the double-edged policies in Britain. He is a political refugee who was given asylum 19 years ago and is supported by public assistance. Asked in an interview in May how he felt about being barred from obtaining British citizenship, he replied, "I don't want to become a citizen of hell."
Not a citizen, no, but a resident on the dole is just fine, thank you very much.
[ADDNEDUM: After writing this piece, I picked up the book Immortality by Milan Kundera, which I had recently gotten out of the library. When I idly opened it at random (like the I Ching?), my eyes happend to meet the following words, which one character was addressing to another who has been engaged in dissing Eurpoean culture and history: You are the brilliant ally of your own gravediggers. I started reading, and found the contents, published in 1990, strangely relevant. But that's another post for another time. Suffice to say right now that I hope we, and the British, don't turn out to be the brilliant allies of our own gravediggers.)